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Monday, January 18, 2016

Unreasonable Doubt and Land of Shadows

Unreasonable Doubt by Vicki Delany.

Walter Desmond has been exonerated for the murder of a young woman when it is discovered that evidence was concealed at the time of the trial.  Having spent twenty-five years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Desmond decides to return to Trafalgar City.  He wants to know why the detectives at the time were so determined to have him convicted that they concealed exculpatory evidence.  

The town in not particularly eager to embrace Desmond; many, including the woman's family, continue to believe him guilty.  This sets up a volatile situation for the Trafalgar police department.

But if Walter didn't commit the murder, that means the killer is still free, and a new investigation must take place.

I'm  always happy to return to Trafalgar City and Constable Molly Smith!  This was an especially intriguing installment as the news so frequently covers the release of individuals who have served decades for murders they did not commit.

NetGalley/Poisoned Pen Press

Mystery/Police Procedural.  Feb. 2, 2016.  

Land of Shadows by Priscilla Royal

Queen Eleanor of Castile has just given birth at Woodstock.  Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas are there because Eleanor's father has suffered a stroke.  

A move against the Jews, in part to increase the king's coffers; the murder of a promiscuous noble woman; a case of PTSD for a veteran of the Crusades; an accusation against Eleanor's nephew; and machinations by the sinister priest (one of those dedicated men with a narrow point of view, more dedicated to the Church than to God--whether he knows it or not) are all part of this medieval mystery set in 1279.

As much as I like this series, it has been uneven in its appeal to me.  Some of the books I've loved; some I've cared less for.
Fortunately, Land of Shadows fall into the former category, and I found myself once again immersed in the politics and cultural conventions of the late 13th c. and in Priscilla Royal's vivid characters.  Royal not only explains much about her choices at the end, but includes her extensive bibliographic material.

NetGalley/Poisoned Pen Press

Medieval Mystery.  Feb. 2, 2016.  Print version:  220 pages.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Catching Up

Worse than Death.  Anna Southwood opens a detective agency; since she has no background for this new business, she depends on her partner Graham because he does have a license.  Graham, however, is an aspiring actor whose auditions interfere with his detecting.

The agency has its first serious case when called upon to find Beth Channing, a missing adolescent.  Beth's mother has been charged with murder, but there is no body.

As the investigation continues, Anna discovers a connection to another missing girl.

Not a bad mystery, but not as good as some.  I did like that it was set in Australia.

NetGalley/Endeavor Press

Mystery.  1991; 2015.  Print version:  192 pages.

The Inquisitor by Mitchell Hogan is evidently his first foray into science fiction.    He is best known for his fantasy series.

Angel Xia is an Inquisitor whose cases involve hunting down Genevolves.  Her new cases turns her into the hunted when she is betrayed and marked for assassination.  

When she receives a call for help from a young girl, Xia's life becomes even more complicated.

Fast action and interesting view of Artificial Intelligence and genetic manipulation.


SciFi/Crime.  2015.  Print version:  312 pages.

A Deadly Truth is a Victorian suspense novel.  I really liked this description:  When Doyle Flanagan finds two strangers in his library—one dead and the other the beautiful but meddlesome Cady Delafield, his life begins to unravel as all clues point to him for the murder.

If you like Victorian mysteries with a healthy dollop of romance, you might like this one.  I could have done without the cliched romance, but then, my interests rarely lie in this area.  

NetGalley/Champagne Books

Mystery.  2013.  Print version:  272 pages.

The Hidden Legacy was more than satisfying.  The novel opens with a disturbing crime being committed by a young boy.   The trial and the aftermath leave ripples over the surface of many lives.  

Forty years later, Ellen Sutherland receives a letter from a solicitor telling her that she is mentioned in the will of a woman Ellen has never heard of.  At first reluctant to even call to see what is going on, Ellen decides to make the journey to find out more.  Eudora Nash, a complete stranger, has left her home Primrose Cottage to Ellen.  

The property is very valuable, and Ellen's first visit results in her falling in love with the cottage and realizing that a visitor is there under false pretences.  One secret after another is gradually uncovered as the events move back and forth in time.

Sometimes the alternating time sequences were frustrating because I would get so involved in one of the stories and have to abruptly switch to the next--in which I would become utterly involved.  The prologue is particularly difficult because of the horrifying crime, but after that the psychological suspense kept me riveted as the layers unfolded in both past and present.  

Minett manages to add information a little at a time in keeping with Ellen's increasing interest in the secrets behind her bequest.  The alternating time passages are skillfully handled, and I'm happy to find a new author who can hold my interest while keeping me guessing!

NetGalley/Bonnier Publishing

Psychological Suspense.  2015.  Print version: 448 pages.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A New Year

I've taken some time away from the computer lately, and except for reviews that were already scheduled, have been avoiding writing new reviews.  Each morning, on my "to do" list in my journal, I write bk. rev.  Each morning, I give the computer a wide berth, anxiety mounting.

  I've avoided my other blog as well--because the urge to make and create has also been absent.  Of course, I'm reading.  A day rarely passes that I don't read, but every so often the need to retreat into a less active, more internal state of mind just happens.  Especially after the long holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year's Celebrations when so much is going on.

What I have been doing, aside from the New Year urge to simplify and get rid of "stuff," is writing letters.  Years ago, I participated in Mail Art, which is an entertaining pastime. This year has brought a renewed interest.  Starting in December, Snail Mail to friends and family has kept me entertained.  Especially letters to my grandchildren (who have, as yet, failed to return a letter).  They love getting mail, but are less interested in actually writing letters in return.  But that's OK, because as much as I love receiving letters (instead of just email), for the moment, my obsession is decorating envelopes and writing letters.

to my daughters and a friend

this one went to a blog friend in Australia

grandson- he loves superheroes


Now, maybe I should write some book reviews...or get back to cleaning out and purging the accumulated mess.  GoodWill, here I come.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Catching UP

I'm so behind on everything, including reviewing books I read in 2015.  I've grouped some reviews I had drafts of together and am trying to get caught up on others.

Thorn by Vena Cork is set in London.  

A family disrupted and grieving after the father's death, has each member trying to deal with the loss in different ways as their lives have permanently changed.  Rosa Thorn must take a temporary teaching position at a nearby school.  Her children, Danny and Anna must leave their expensive private academy and join their mother at the same neighborhood school.

Thorn kept my interest up until the conclusion.  Unsure of the villain, I had suspected the actual culprit at times, but there were other possibilities that kept it interesting.  Until the very end, I was not sure who the guilty party was.  What bothered me was the long, feverish, and overdone finale.

Thorn (first published in 2003) is the first in a series, but I am surprised that the Thorn family saga continues, as it reads like a self-contained standalone.  The next in the series is The Art of Dying, and despite my discomfort with the conclusion of Thorn, I'm eager to read more by Cork.

Read in Dec.; review scheduled for Dec. 30, 2015.  Jan.

NetGalley/Endeavor Press

Mystery/Suspense.  2003; Dec. 18, 2015.  Print length:  352 pages.

Passenger 19 by Ward Larsen.  

Brief description:  Jammer Davis has spent most of his life investigating aircraft accidents. When a small regional jet disappears over the jungles of Colombia, it is a tragedy like dozens of others he has seen…but for one terrible detail—his young daughter, who was enroute to a semester abroad in South America, is listed on the passenger manifest.  

 Although it would seem that all aboard died in the crash, Jammer's investigation reveals that the crash was no accident and that at least two passengers are missing from the crash scene.  A search for their remains comes up empty.  Jammer is convinced that his daughter is still alive, but both Colombian officials and his own government appear to be thwarting his investigation.

Crime, corruption, and suspense make this fast-paced novel an engrossing read.

Read in August; review scheduled for Dec. Jan.

Thriller.  Jan. 5, 2016.  Print length:  368 pages.  

   Hillwilla by Melanie Forde is listed as literary/contemporary/women's fiction.  

Brief description:  Beatrice Desmond, 55, lives on a remote farm nestled in a deep hollow in southern West Virginia. A native of Boston and a graduate of an Ivy League college, Beatrice is a fish out of water in Seneca County; although she maintains contact with certain friends and family, too often, Beatrice retreats into her work as a translator and editor, or into the bottle of Jack Daniel’s she maintains nearby. Fate finally intervenes, requiring Beatrice to befriend and shelter Clara, an abused teenager, and accept the job of ghostwriting the memoir of her dashing but enigmatic neighbor, Tanner Fordyce.

I think I may have chosen this one because of the cover, but the description interested me as well.  I became quickly immersed in the novel and enjoyed.  Beatrice is an interesting (if crotchety) character, and I love the setting.

Read in December.

NetGalley/Mountain Lake Press

Contemporary Fiction.  2014.  Print length: 208 pages.

A Better World by Marcus Sakey is the second book in the Brilliance trilogy, but I have not read the first book.  No worries, this one gave just enough background to allow me to enjoy this one without having read the first one.

In the 1980's children began to be born who were gifted in a a wide range of ways and a wide range of levels (Tier 1-Tier 4).  As the children grew up, their gifts became more obvious, and the world had to admit that a small percentage of these individuals had abilities that ranged from the ability to anticipate movement, to being able to tell if someone is lying or telling the truth, to the ability to read patterns to the extent that they can predict what will happen.  At first, perhaps, a novelty, but eventually, some of "the normals" begin to perceive these individuals as threats.  
As the children have grown into adults with these gifts, they have become both sought after and discriminated against because of their skills.  In this second book in the series, the U.S. is on the verge of a civil war.  Normals hugely outnumber Brilliants, but Brilliants have innate talents that can, in some cases, protect them.  Terrorism and corruption escalate the division between the two groups...and the end result might be the destruction of the world for both groups.

Suspenseful.  Easy to make some comparisons to the world's current problems.  

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer

Suspense/Dystopian/Thriller.  2014.  Print length:  392 pages.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

Sanctuary Bay by Jennifer Bosworth.  Great cover and an interesting premise: isolated, elite prep school; mixed race girl with traumatic background gets scholarship; something creepy going at the school.  Anything sound familiar?  I'm a bit of a sucker for this kind of novel.  The book started off very well, engaging me with Sarah, the protagonist, and her feelings.  However, it didn't take long for this one to go south for me. Sarah's willingness to get sucked into the "secret society" didn't fit with either her intelligence or the toughness she seemed to have from her difficult childhood.  Even when she begins to stand up against the "pack," it didn't work for me.

Also a cliffhanger.

Read in November; blog post scheduled for ??

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

YA/Mystery/Suspense.  Jan. 19, 2016.  Print length:  320 pages